How to Use Hashtags to Grow on Social Media
By: Tiffany Brandon, Social Media Manager
Did you know that a post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag? It’s true! Hashtags are one of the most effective and organic ways to get more eyes and engagement on your posts.
A robust and well-planned hashtag strategy can boost your engagement, reach, follower growth, and even translate to new customers for your business. In this blog, we’ll cover how you can find, use, and optimize your hashtags to get your content discovered by more people outside of your network.
Ready to use hashtags more strategically?
Let’s dive in!
Why are hashtags valuable?
Hashtags might not seem like much of a priority on the surface, but they remain a very important (and free way!) of promoting your business on social. Using relevant, targeted hashtags can:
• Make your content easily discoverable by others
• Clue you in on emerging trends happening in your industry
• Help you reach new audiences who may convert into customers
• Help users find and engage with content related to common interests
• Allow your business to join relevant/timely conversations
• Help you discover raving fans who love to promote your brand
• Help your content reach people all across the world
What are hashtags?
Hashtags are used to categorize social media content into easily navigable lists. By including the #[INSERT KEYWORD] in a post, it then becomes visible with other posts using that same hashtag.
Since hashtags are used with an intent to discover content, the right hashtags can put you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t connected with you before.
For example, a food blogger might post a picture of a gorgeous smoothie bowl, and then use the hashtags #superfoods, #cleaneating, and #vegansofig when it’s uploaded to Instagram. By using these three hashtags, the image is cataloged so other Instagram users who enjoy healthy foods can easily find it.
How many hashtags should you use?
There’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to deciding how many hashtags you should use. While some experts recommend using the maximum number of hashtags allowed, because it gives you more opportunities to be discovered, others recommend using just 5-10.
At MassMedia, we use a tool called Cloud Campaign to help analyze our client’s hashtag performance by channel. Cloud Campaign provides data on most used hashtags, most viewed hashtags, and most engaged hashtags.
You can also analyze the performance of your hashtags based on quantity for each platform. You may find that 6-10 hashtags work best on LinkedIn and 11-15 hashtags work best on Instagram. We recommend experimenting with different hashtags and quantities to find your hashtag sweet spot!
What types of hashtags should you use?
The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding what hashtags to use is that you’re being intentional — as in, you’re using hashtags that are relevant to your brand or what your target audience is actually searching for. For example, if your business is focused on real estate, using hashtags like #realestate, #listings, #investing, or #houseflipping would make sense for your audience. Digging deeper and incorporating different types of community hashtags can also help you develop an effective hashtag strategy. Here are 9 different types of community hashtags your business can leverage to grow your reach:
#1 Hashtags indicating your niche in your industry, like #marketing or #marketingagency
#2 Hashtags for Instagram communities in your industry, like #marketersofinstagram
#3 Hashtags for special events or seasons, like #socialmediaday or #firstdayofsummer
#4 Hashtags using locations, like #lasvegasmarketing, #lasvegaslife, or #lasvegaslocals
#5 Daily hashtags, like #mondaymotivation, #tuesdaytip, or #wellnesswednesday
#6 Hashtags with phrases relevant to what you do, like #clientlove or #agencylife
#7 Hashtags with acronyms, like #qotd (quote of the day) or #bts (behind the scenes)
#8 Hashtags indicating your product or service, like #publicrelations or #creativemarketing
#9 Hashtags specific to your brand or core values, like #massmedia or #havefunseriously
How can you find trending hashtags?
#1 Find related hashtags – On Instagram, related hashtags show just above the “Top” and “Recent” tabs when in the Explore section of Instagram. These hashtags are a little more specific than the popular hashtags you’re already using, which could help you connect with a more targeted audience.
#2 Monitor social influencers & competitors – Start by doing a competitive analysis on social media. Gather intel about your competitors and any relevant influencers within your brand’s niche.
Make note of which hashtags they use most often and how many hashtags they use in each of their posts. This will help you learn how your competitors are engaging with your shared target audience and which keywords they tend to use.
#3 Use tools like Hashtagify.me to track what’s trending – Hashtagify.me helps you find the best Twitter hashtags or Instagram hashtags for your brand. With this tool, you can search any hashtag and see how popular it is. For example, if you search the popularity of #springtime, you will get results showing you this hashtag’s overall popularity, its recent popularity, and the trends for the month and week. You can also type in your Twitter or Instagram caption. Then, it will provide you with hashtag suggestions.
Look at you becoming a #HashtagPro!
Nice work! You should now be ready to conquer hashtagging on social media. We’re excited to see you take your #hashtag strategy to the next level! If you’re looking for ways to grow your brand on social media but not sure where to begin, contact our team at MassMedia to learn how we can help.
Sources: Cloud Campaign, Hootsuite